Steel workers feel betrayed
The steel maker Corus has issued 150 compulsory redundancies in Scunthorpe as part of this year's job cuts. Workers who have spent their whole working lives in steel are now being sacked because they don't fit management's criteria. These workers feel betrayed. For the last 20 years steel workers in Scunthorpe have faced annual job losses. British Steel told its workers that they could only make their future secure by becoming 'leaner and fitter'. Each year steel workers delivered better productivity.
They have accepted more job cuts, breaking production records year in and year out. Yet job cuts are now the reward. There is no chance of most of these redundant workers finding another job that pays a decent wage in the area. Most of the jobs created in the new industrial estate, built on the site of the closed Normanby Park steel works, pay at or near the minimum wage.
Every steel worker knows that more job losses are in the pipeline even if Scunthorpe steelworks does not face the complete axe. All of this time the steel workers' unions have meekly accepted the case that the only way to make jobs secure is to be competitive.
Now they are calling for meetings with the government and with local MPs. According to the local paper, local Labour MP Elliot Morley believes the days of subsidies for industry are long gone, and are in fact illegal under world trade and single market rules. This is no help whatsoever to workers facing redundancy. The only answer is to fight.
TOM WOOD, Scunthorpe
Simon Jones death trial
On 19 December the Director of Public Prosecutions announced that Euromin and its general manager, Richard Martell, are to be prosecuted for the manslaughter of Simon Jones.
Simon was sent to work in the hold of a ship on his first day of work for Euromin and was dead within two hours. Simon was killed on 24 April 1998. Since his death Simon's family and friends have campaigned for the circumstances surrounding his death to be the subject of court action.
This campaign has involved shutting down Euromin's dock, occupying the employment agency that sent Simon to work for Euromin, occupying the Department of Trade and Industry, winning a judicial review and picketing the Crown Prosecution Service's headquarters in London.
Our campaign for prosecutions to be brought has now been won. We would like to thank the thousands of people who have supported us. People like Simon Jones get killed at work all the time and nothing gets done about it. Not this time.
SIMON JONES MEMORIAL CAMPAIGN, Brighton
New battles after Nice
The protests at the EU summit in Nice last month were inspiring. The size of the demonstrations showed workers can organise on an international scale. Predictably the coverage in the media was disgraceful. The press also hid many of the important decisions that will deeply affect workers in Britain and across Europe.
While we were being gassed outside the meeting, EU leaders inside passed sweeping changes to Article 133 of the Amsterdam treaty. This will make it much easier for governments to speed up the process of privatising schools and hospitals, and enforce the demolition of welfare services.
But Nice also proved how powerful workers can be when we organise resistance. Every protester came back with renewed determination to fight back. It is up to socialists and activists to build the largest- ever contingent to the anti-capitalist demonstrations in Genoa, Italy, in July.
TONY STAUNTON, branch secretary, Plymouth UNISON
Patents on life
I am really alarmed by recent developments in parliament. Just before Christmas a Statutory Instrument that would permit human cloning and virtually unlimited genetic research on human embryos was passed. It is alarming that there was not more widespread public debate about this.
Many human cloning patents have already been claimed by biotech research institutes, companies and universities. If this legislation is approved by the House of Lords, biotech companies will have a free hand to trade in human genetic codes (life). The legislation must be agreed by the House of Lords, probably in January, so time is short. I hope there is some way in which this issue can be brought to public attention before it is too late.
SARAH MACKEN, London
I will be medically retired soon and my CWU union branch presented me with a cheque for £100 in recognition of my work in the union. Socialist Worker has been an indispensable tool in that work. I am donating half of the money to the Socialist Worker appeal. I shall also stock up on books as I will find it hard to afford such items from the amount that the government expects disabled people to live on. Many thanks.
COLIN YATES, East London
Wrong to march
I applaud the bravery of those who faced the French riot squads in Nice. I am relieved that a friend who was there was not injured or killed. If she had come to harm, however, I would partly have blamed the SWP. I think that it was irresponsible to place its members in such danger.
It was obvious that the French state would use extreme force to prevent any possible disruption to the EU summit. Therefore the march on the conference centre should not have been attempted. It was bound to fail in the stated aim of closing down the summit.
NEIL YOUNG, London
Don't attack Bible
Thank you for putting Socialist Worker online. It is much appreciated. As I am a student I am unable to afford much. However, as a committed Christian as well as a socialist, I would like to point out a few things. The Bible does not teach capitalism.
The Acts of the Apostles 4:32-34 points out that in the early church 'neither did anyone say that any of the things they possessed were their own but they had all things in common'. Also in 1 Timothy 6:10 it states that 'the love of money is the root of all evil'. It is because of the greed of governments and multinationals that many people suffer.
In regard to racism, Colossians 3:11 says that in Christ there is 'neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all in all'. The faults of the modern church are endless and by all means expose them. However, I have on occasion opened Socialist Worker only to be offended by needless attacks on the Bible and on god. I do not believe that you are helping anyone by doing this.
Defending the right to protest
Protesters were outside Uxbridge Magistrates Court on 22 December in defence of Michael Taylor. He is accused of organising a protest at Heathrow airport to stop the forced deportation of an Iraqi Kurdish asylum seeker, Amanj Gafor. Amanj has been refused asylum in Britain even though his father was executed by the Iraqi regime.
We were very disappointed that the Crown Prosecution Service was granted yet another adjournment. Michael is on bail and the trial will now be heard on 20 April, just around the likely time of the general election, and we will be using the coming period to build and carry the campaign throughout the trade union movement. The fundamental right to assemble and protest affects our whole movement.
BRISTOL DEFEND THE ASYLUM SEEKERS CAMPAIGN
Shut down this jail
It will be interesting to see the results of a BBC documentary on the notorious Wandsworth prison in South London. I have just been released from 'the hate factory', as it is known by inmates. The BBC has spent several months following the day to day regime of this institution, one which has been under instruction from both the government and a new governor to reform. It will be interesting though to see what conclusions are drawn from the documentary, and what degree of truth the authorities actually allowed the camera crew to be witness to. My experience is that of many other inmates. The whole Victorian dungeon should be closed down.
DUNCAN WILLIAMS, West London